Comments by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO cooperation inaccurate
The comments by the Russian Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoygu, in Moscow on Tuesday with regard to Finland’s and Sweden’s cooperation with NATO contain a number of inaccuracies and factual errors.
Finland has not set up any cyber-operation centre with the assistance of the United States, as Shoygu indicates. Instead, Finland hosts a multinational European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which was established in 2017.
In his speech, Shoygu also refers to a treaty signed between Finland, Sweden and NATO in May. There is in fact no such treaty. In May 2018, Finland, Sweden and US signed a Trilateral Statement of Intent on defence cooperation.
Finland does not participate fully in NATO exercises nor does it have full access to NATO’s command-and-control system, contrary to what Shoygu claims. Moreover, NATO does not have unrestricted access to Finland’s airspace and territorial waters. Any foreign vessels or aircraft wishing to enter Finland’s territory must have authorisation from the relevant authority, which in Finland is the Defence Forces. Such authorisation is always case-specific and subject to national discretion.
Shoygu is incorrect in saying that Finland is being pulled into NATO. Finland’s position on its military non-alignment is clear and Finland makes its security policy choices independently.